Before the start of the season, the BSD staff voted on Penn State’s top 10 players heading into 2016. Now that the dust has settled following a surprise Big Ten championship, we again voted on the top 10 based on the performances from the previous season. Each staff member submitted their top 10 list, with a number one vote being worth 10 points, a number two worth nine points, and so on. Without any further ado, here are the players who ranked 6-10 according to our postseason ballots:
10. Ryan Bates (OL)
It didn’t take long to realize Penn State has a star-in-the-making on the offensive line in Ryan Bates during his redshirt freshman campaign. Due to injuries, Bates was shuffled around a bit, yet played consistently well despite his lack of experience. Bates could easily develop into Penn State’s top offensive lineman heading into 2017 and lead a unit that suddenly appears to be a force for the Nittany Lions.
2016 Stats: 110 tackles, six tackles for loss, 3 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
After experiencing a bit of s sophomore slump (which in fairness, was likely due to Allen playing through a shoulder injury), Allen bounced back in a huge way in 2016. Allen was simply everywhere on defense, a constant enforcer that helped a young defense emerge while rolling with the punches of inexperience and injury. His blocked field goal against Ohio State and fourth-and-one stuff against Wisconsin helped propel Penn State to a Big Ten championship. After flirting with leaving early for the NFL, Allen decided to stay for his senior season where he could realistically emerge as an All-American.
2016 Stats: 47 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, six sacks
In his third season as a starter, Sickels stepped out of the shadows to become the leader of a young, and surprisingly good, defensive line. Sickels was a disruptive force throughout the season, but his performance against Ohio State was the stuff of legends. After being forced to sit out the first half for missing a class, Sickels played like a man possessed to help Penn State pick up a thrilling comeback victory and one of the biggest upsets in program history. Sickels decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and will chase his dreams in the NFL after earning his degree at Penn State.
7. John Reid (CB)
2016 Stats: 35 tackles, five tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, 1 interception, 7 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery
In his true sophomore season, Reid developed into a shutdown cornerback who took on the opponent’s top receiver each week with little trouble. The noted film junkie will be even better as an upperclassman, and could become a big name outside of Happy Valley- even if quarterbacks refuse to throw the ball in his direction.
2016 Stats: 80 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 3 passes defended
The man in the middle was a consistent force for the Nittany Lions as a junior. Despite missing nearly the first half of the season with a hand injury, Cabinda would become the team’s third-leading tackler. He came back with a bang in his first game back against Ohio State, helping guide the team to victory with a “thumbs up” performance. After Penn State won the Big Ten Championship Game over Wisconsin, Cabinda quickly made his decision to return for his senior year where he should officially become the next great at Linebacker U.